Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Russia Scandal is About to Get Really Entertaining

5/31/17 Wall Street Journal:
The Republican-led committee issued four subpoenas related to the Russia investigation. Three subpoenas are related to questions about how and why the names of associates of President Donald Trump were unredacted and distributed within classified reports by Obama administration officials during the transition between administrations.

The committee has subpoenaed the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency for information about what is called “unmasking.” Republicans on the committee have been pushing for a thorough investigation of how the names of Trump campaign officials became exposed in classified intelligence reports based off intelligence community intercepts.
Those subpoenas seek information on requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power for names to be unmasked in classified material. The three didn’t personally receive subpoenas, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Brennan, Ms. Rice and Ms. Power didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
My understanding is that this unmasking of American citizens without very good reason is likely a criminal offense.

My Little Town: Ammunition Manufacturing

You may recall this Simon & Garfunkel song.  It sneaks up on you; giving you at first a hint of nostalgia for small town life.

And then the full nastiness comes out.  Heaven forbid you live in a town where you go out to dinner and the restaurant owner knows your names and your kids' names!

Horseshoe Bend isn't really "my little town"; we live about 6 miles south of it.  It has some significant social problems.  One of the more memorable moments shortly after we moved to the area was along the old highway: it looked like a Saturday Night Live skit go awry.  A mattress, a pair of blue jeans, a bra and panties of the sort that I would expect a high school girl to wear, and the remains of a six-pack.  Go ahead, young lady; try and explain your lack of attire to Mom and Dad, assuming they notice.

Anyway, on to a happier note.  A few months back, I noticed a sign in Horseshoe Bend, for American Reserve Munitions, in the area of the old sawmill.  I went in a couple days ago.  They are not just a retailer, but also a manufacturer of ammunition.  Not just any ammunition, but some rather startling items.  They load some 9mm with a new bullet design, the G9:

It is called an external hollow point.  A solid bullet with those odd shapes that apparently produces quite a shock wave.

Instead of boring brass cartridge cases, they make them from aluminum (at the primer end) and stainless steel (where the pressures builds up).  Why do this instead of brass?  You have doubtless seen the aluminum cases used for some .22LR because it is cheap.  I am sure you can't reload aluminum; it does not have the ability to deform readily that brass does.  I know steel cased ammo has been used for a long time, and is apparently reloadable.  But why stainless steel instead of brass?  It weighs less because steel is much stiffer than brass for the same thickness.  How many more rounds can you carry if you knock an ounce off each cartridge?  I can see both SWAT and military getting some gain from this.

Anyway, their ammo seems reasonably priced and the next time I go shooting, I should buy a box of the 115 grain 9mm G9s, to see how they feed and function.

Why Not All Cases May Be Appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Arms and the Law brought this amazing case to my attention:
Plaintiff - Appellant: JAMES AGGREY-KWEGGYIR ARUNGA, and all Other Allies of the United States of America, Similarly SituatedDefendant - Appellee: BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, 7+years Imperial Administrations and Expulsions Fuzes of President Barack Hussein Obama and Vice President "Joe" Biden, JOSEPH "JOE" BIDEN, 7+years Imperial Administrations and Expulsions Fuzes of President Barack Hussein Obama and Vice President Joseph "Joe" Biden, S. BREYER, Scoutus Dictum Expulsion Fainaiguing Fuzes, R. B. GINSBURG, Scoutus Dictum Expulsion Fainaiguing Fuzes, E. KAGAN, Scoutus Dictum Expulsion Fainaiguing Fuzes, A. M. KENNEDY, Scoutus Dictum Expulsion Fainaiguing Fuzes, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTY UNION (ACLU)/LYNCH & GUPTA, Special Counsel, BAGNIO OF LGBT HOMOSEXUAL STATE-CLAN and CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
I do not even need to read the briefs to recognize a need for treatment.

Windswept Grasses

Among the most powerfully emotional images for me are grasses blowing in the wind.   The Palouse wheat uop near Moscow, Idaho doing this just overwhelms me.  Even this slightly less powerful version on our property is a powerful statement of "All's right with the world, no matter what outrage the SJWs are coming up with today."  The sound isn't the wind, but the Jeep's AC:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

You Wouldn't Argue With Scientists, Would You?

The federal Liberals’ cannabis legislation should not be passed in its current form, argues a strongly worded editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“The purported purpose of the act is to protect public health and safety, yet some of the act’s provisions appear starkly at odds with this objective, particularly for Canada’s youth,” the editorial argues. “The government appears to be hastening to deliver on a campaign promise without being careful enough about the health impacts of policy.”
Young adults’ brains are developing until the age of 25. Some studies (but not others) seem to show that marijuana use harms the developing brain.
And this 4/17/17 report should make you all warm and fuzzy inside (perhaps the unborn child will end up fuzzy):
Adolescent girls are more than twice as likely to smoke marijuana if they’re pregnant, a U.S. study suggests.
While previous research has tied teen drug and alcohol use to higher odds of multiple sex partners and pregnancy, the current study offers fresh insight into marijuana use among young women.
About 14 per cent of pregnant girls ages 12 to 17 smoke marijuana, compared to roughly 6 per cent of their non-pregnant peers, the study found. By contrast, older pregnant women were at least half as likely to smoke pot as their peers.
Among all pregnant women ages 12 to 44 in the study, about 6 per cent reported marijuana use during the first trimester, while 3 per cent said they smoked pot in the second trimester and about 2 per cent use the drug in the third and final trimester.
“These findings should be considered in a broader context in which young people increasingly view marijuana not just as a benign, but even as a beneficial drug,” said lead study author Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland.
Doctors advise women to completely avoid marijuana during pregnancy because it may have negative effects on fetal neurodevelopment, especially during the first trimester.
Gee, do you suppose being stoned might be a part of the reason for the pregnant 12-year-olds?

Wild Flowers

There's a small creek (or rivulet might be accurate) near our house, awash in camas (blue) and arrow root balsam leaf (yellow):

Foreigners Influencing Our Elections!

PjMedia has a report about 5,566 aliens registered to vote, many of whom did vote in Virginia.  And in other states.  Especially bad is that most answered No to the "Are you a U.S. citizen?" question on the registration form.  Worse, this fraud was intentionally supported by officials:
For example, Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg, in an email obtained by PILF, contemplated providing an altered and shorter list of registrants removed for citizenship problems. Her email stated:
Lindberg specifically contemplated hiding the full report of non-citizen cancellations from PILF and then producing an abbreviated list that excluded anyone on the list who subsequently cast a ballot regardless of the timing of any naturalization process.
  • This group [PILF] has and will interpret the fact that there may be voting credit on the cancelled record as “illegal aliens” registering and voting, despite the voter having subsequently affirmed his citizenship. ... I am going to delete or otherwise notate these names from my report, either by deleting the rows from the Excel version or marking them on the report.
This is why I completely ignore the Russia thing.  The Democrats are not really serious about foreign influence on elections.  They are just angry that they lost.

Not Even Sure Who Kathy Griffin Is

Some sort of  celebrity.  5/30/17 TMZ shows a picture of her holding Trump's severed head.  Imagine if a Tea Partier had done this ISIS-like stunt with a paper mache Obama head.  I see that Memorial Day weekend movie box office numbers were way down.  I wonder why?  Us deplorables are voting at the theaters, or rather not voting there.

UPDATE:  Someone tweeted about this and called her stunt a "Satanic-ISIS death threat":

ExIf Data

For reasons that I do not understand, some of my astrophotographs retain date taken in the Details field of properties; others do not.  I enhance these with IrfanView or and sometimes and GIMP.  My guess is that one of the other does not export all the Exif data.  No, both export Exif data, just fine.

Photographed When Sky Was Still Blue

But post-processing blackened the sky:
ISO 100, 1/90th second, prime focus (2000mm, f4.5).

Amazingly this was done without an clock drive.  The Moon is bright enough to take OK pictures at prime focus without.  The ones taken with eyepiece projection were not good because of long exposure requirements..  An equatorial platform is on my purchase list.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Added Some New Astrophotos

New in that I took these 10 years ago, but just put them up on my astrophoto page.

Like this gibbous Moon:

And a crop from an existing picture:

That's the crater near the middle of the above image.  Here you can see the rebound peak that happens at the center of substantial impacts.  Meteor Crater in Arizona has a very small one somewhat obliterated by the start of 20th century iron mining attempt.

I have many hundreds of astrophotos on my computer, some quite good.  I just need to organize them.

I Am Sure This is Just Panic-Mongering

5/29/17 U.K. Sun reports Hawaii Emergency Management Agency is preparing nuclear war survival plans because of Short Fat.  Glad that Boise isn't high on his list, and I have a radiation/flash barrier in the way, if he decides potatoes are a strategic item.

Someone reminded me that Mountain Home AFB is not in the business of dropping potatoes.

Miami Vice

My wife and I were driven into a 1980s nostalgia moment by a passing Ferrari, and she suddenly wondered if Miami Vice was available on Netflix.  No, but it is available here for free.  This was a show that ran from dark to sometimes amusing, and always with enormous style, fast cars, awesome guns, amazing sound track (remember the Phil Collins song "Inthe Air Tonight." in one episode as Sonny drives through a dark Miami?), and often awesome acting, and the occasional guest actor.  Remember G. Gordon Liddy just acting naturally as "Captain Real Estate?"  Nice touch: a real picture of him with Henry Kissinger in the background.

Of course my Sanyo LCD TV has an SVGA input from my PC, but SVGA does not carry audio, so it's time to get an HDMI cable.

That Islamophobic Attack in Portland?

I thought mental illness more than Trumpism.  Indeed, research into the suspect's postings shows a fairly unhinged white supremacist, Bernie Sanders supporter.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy to Report the Digital Setting Circles (DSCs) on the Big Scope Was a Worthwhile Purchase

I had this rebuild done before my stroke.  Among the options I splurged on were digital setting circles.  If you have no idea what analog setting circles are, a brief introduction.  Every object in the sky has a position analogous to latitude and longitude on Earth.  Instead of latitude, declination from 90o N (roughly Polaris, the northern pole star) to 90o S.  Right ascension (RA) is the longitude equivalent, measured from where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at the vernal equinox.  Analog setting circles were pretty, usually aluminum cylinders with markings that you would use to aim your telescope at a particular declination and RA (measured in hours and minutes).  Because they had to be produced with a dividing head, they were expensive, and seldom finer than about 5' in RA or 1on consumer grade telescope mounts.  Here's a picture from my favorite telescope mount maker, Losmandy.

Some years ago, as electronics became cheap, some clever people grabbed the 1 in 4096, then 1 in 8192 optical encoders to build the digital equivalents.  These attach to the declination and right ascension axes of an equatorial mount.  Once you have sighted in two or three stars and pressed ENTER, the display shows you your current RA and declination.  Positioning to your perhaps faint target is now possible.  (We call deep sky objects like galaxies and many of the other items whose distances are measured in light-years, instead of millions of miles, "faint fuzzies," although not all are really that faint).  Just a bit more math and these work on Dobsonian, alt-azimuth mounts, too.

I have used these on my equatorial mounts with good results.  Because the rebuilt scope arrived just before my stroke, I had never actually used the DSCs.  Tonight I stayed up well past my normal bedtime, rolled it out and used Polaris and Vega for my two alignment stars,  I told it to show me M13, the Hercules globular cluster.  Just on the edge of my field of view.  Then M57, the Ring Nebula (a smoke ring of incredible size).  And there it was.

Some of these targets can be found by hopping from bright star to fainter and so on as well.  M57 is about 40% of the way between the the two most southernmost stars of Lyra, and M13 is a bit more than halfway between two stars in the Hercules quadrilateral.  This is much easier and for some objects (like the Whirlpool Galaxy) I have never found star hopping adequate.

At least part of why both M13 and M57 were on the edge of my field of view is that I used a very wide field eyepiece to center my alignment stars. Tomorrow night, I will center them at 154x.

Strictly speaking this is an invasive weed but it says so kind of pretty call white top


I Sure Hope Hell is Real

I started watching a series documentary on Netflix titled The Keepers, about the 1969 murder of a nun in Baltimore.  Shortly afterwards,  another pretty young lady was also kidnapped and murdered.  Serial killer,  right?  No,  it was a crime that makes all the pedophile Catholic priests seem tame by comparison.   (And yes, I am aware the Church has aggressively worked to prevent any repetition of this set of crimes.)  Two priests at a Catholic high school were raping the girls, and Sister Catherine was starting to raise a ruckus about this.   One of the victims was taken to her body the next day by Father Maskill and told this is what happens to people who say bad things.

So, how did these two priests get away with these crimes?  Father Maskill had extensive contacts with local police

Friday, May 26, 2017

How Big a Murder Problem Does the U.S. Have?

Dr. Lott has a spectacular article showing that most of America does not have a murder problem.
The vast majority of murders in the United States occur in just a tiny percentage of counties. In fact, the country can be divided up into three types of places: those where there are no murders; those where there are a few murders; and those where murders are very common.

In 2014, the most recent year that a county level breakdown is available, 54 percent of counties (with 11 percent of the population) had no murders. 69 percent of counties had no more than one murder, and about 20 percent of the population and only 4 percent of all murders in the country.

The worst 1 percent of counties have 19 percent of the population and 37 percent of the murders in 2014. The worst 2 percent of counties contain 47 percent of the population and accounted for 51 percent of the murders. 68 percent of the murders occurred in only 5 percent of counties.
Hat tip to Shall Not Be Questioned.


A leading young Democrat and de Blasio administration employee was busted on charges of possessing a huge stash of kiddie porn, law-enforcement sources told The Post on Friday.
Jacob Schwartz, 29, allegedly had several thousand computer images and videos showing children as young as 6-months-old, sources said.
He surrendered to NYPD computer-crimes investigators in Manhattan’s 13th Precinct on Thursday morning, sources said.
Schwartz is the president of the Manhattan Young Democrats and the downstate region vice president of the New York State Young Democrats.
Hint, Mr. Schwartz: Young Democrats means of legal age.  You would have thought Carlos Danger would have taught him a lesson.

If Muslims Had Been the Targets in the U.S....

CAIRO — Militants in military-style uniforms opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt on Friday, killing at least 28 people in the latest bloodshed targeting the country’s Christian minority, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the Islamic State has claimed links to previous attacks against Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population.
The attack also took place on the eve of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, a time when some militant factions have stepped up attacks in the past.
It would be a sign of the hatred that Trump has unleashed.

How to Recognize Performance Art

As a queer artist I seek to create a temporal historical rupture,” says Texas-based performance artist Sarah Hill, while describing her - sorry, their - 2014 opus They Wonder. “During the performance,” we’re told, “I repeatedly spin around and around in circles.” The reason being that, as an artist and worker of profundity, Ms Hill is “interested in the continuous action of spinning and getting no-where, falling down and getting back up.”
Inevitably, Ms Hill tells us that she – sorry, they - disdains “the pressures of commodification,” and rejects “the populist template of art as a form of leisure or entertainment.” Yes, I know, a fearless and terribly radical decision, the effects of which may become apparent in the following video, recorded at the Waterloo Centre for the Arts, Iowa.
There is a video of its' performance art that makes as much sense as that drivel quoted above.    And neither "leisure or entertainment" is a result of watching it.  It is work safe, although Wonder Woman will be upset.

You First

5/25/17 CNBC:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called on the need to consider universal basic income for Americans during his Harvard Commencement Speech.
Zuckerberg's comments reflect those of other Silicon Valley bigwigs, including Sam Altman, the president of venture capital firm Y Combinator.
"Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it's time for our generation to define a new social contract," Zuckerberg said during his speech. "We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas."
Zuckerberg, Altman, and fellow billionaire socialists can show us how to do it.  I am sure they can put together $100 billion easily enough, which should generate $10 billion a year in income.  That  should be enough to take care of California.

When billionaires talk in these terms, they really mean to tax those trying to become rich.  Somehow, that money mostly ends up in the pockets of the rich.  And where are all the great ideas, books, etc. that should have come out of the people who were the beneficiaries of the trillions spent on the Great Society?

Albania First?

Aboy 1:30 into this video, Rep. Nany Pelosi (D-Babylon) complains that President Trump went to Saudi Arabia on his first visit, not even in alphabetical order.

I love how Trump Derangement Syndrome drives these people mad.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

If You Regularly Tap Stuff, You Need a Tapmatic

I have been using a Tapmatic for tapping aluminum, steel, and acetal in my drill press for some months.  It is the second most expensive tool that I have ever bought, and worth every penny.

What is Tapping?

If you are not familiar with a tap or tapping, let me give some explanation: a tap is a tool for cutting threads into a hard material, usually metal.

Hand tapping involves putting the tap into a tap wrench:
You drill a hole just slightly larger than the threaded hole's smallest diameter (from inside thread to its opposite), put the tap into the hole, and slowly turn it clockwise (unless you are making a left hand threaded hole with a lefthanded tap).  You turn it slowly, with some tapping oil, because taps are very brittle.  This is because to make steel very hard, and thus appropriate for cutting holes, you treat it so it becomes both hard and brittle.  (This is a crystal structure issue that I don't want to try and explain.)

Hand tapping is slow and anyone who has done it for long has broken a few taps.  Removing the part of the broken tap still in the workpiece is often too hard to justify the effort, unless it is a Porsche engine block.  Another problem with hand tapping is that it is very hard to get a threaded hole exactly perpendicular to the surface.  (Make it a round surface as I have done in the past, and it seems impossible.)

A way to solve the perpendicular problem is put the tap in the chuck of a drill press, lower the handle, and turn the chuck by hand.  This gives nice perpendicular holes and usually does not break taps.  Why not just turn on the drill press?  Drill presses turn one direction; going down at a low speed will tap threads.  When you release the handle it comes back and either removes the threads, and/or breaks the tap.  There are tapping drill presses with a reverse switch but these are expensive.  

If you need to tap holes in a production setting, hand tapping, even in a drill press, makes no sense.

Tapmatic's Solution

Tapmatic is an Idaho company that invented a gadget that goes into the chuck of your drill.  You set the drill press speed so low that you will wonder why 200 rpm exists.  It is for turning enormous drills, like a 1 3/4" diameter monster that I used to use as the first step before boring a hole to an exact size in acetal on the lathe.  Thre, you want torque not speed.  

The tap goes into the bottom of the Tapmatic.  

Turn on the drill press, and down you go.  Once the threads on the tap start cutting into the material, it starts to turn itself down.  When you are as deep as you want, you release the handle.  When the Tapmatic figures out you want to go up, it reverses direction of the tap and backs it out of the now threaded hole.  (Full screen the video.)

It may not be real obvious in this video what is happening, but the tap is threading the hole going down, eventually pulling the Tapmatic down with it as the threads on the tap engage the threads in the hole.  Then when I release the handle, it reverses direction.  I am making two passes here because it seems to give superior fit to the bolt when I insert it later.  That may be the result of the tap I am using; there are standards for how close a fit a tap will produce. (I may need a different closeness standard.)

Like all labor-saving devices, do not expect to open the box and be mass producing threaded holes in the first five minutes.  I struggled at first to get that long extension arm in place.  This arm has to run into a stop, a piece of metal that needs to attach to the drill press, either on the drill press vise, the table, or the frame of the press.  In my case, I drilled a couple holes in the cast iron drill press vise.  Note, 1/4" aluminum will get bent pretty quickly under impact.  (That's why hand or arm is not going to substitute for the stop.)  I am currently using a 1/2" thick piece of steel rod for my stop.  Think carefully how you are going to attach this before you get started.

There is a torque adjustment that is specific to tap size, material type, and drill press speed.  There is no magic formula for this.  You learn by trying.  The Rx50 comes with a 1/2" straight arbor that fits in my 5/8" drill press chuck.  The shank is a Morse taper where it goes into the head, allowing you to fit it to many different devices.

I have discovered that acetal, in spite of being much softer than aluminum, is hard to tap because it produces big gummy strings.  My fix was to go up one drill size from what the tap chart suggests for tapping plastic.  Now the Tapmatic works quickly and easily for tapping 1/2"-13 holes in acetal.

1/4"-20 in aluminum is a breeze.  To my surprise, 1/4"-20 in cold rolled steel was only a little harder.  You are supposed to chamfer the hole before tapping; this makes it easier for the tap to find its way to the center.  (The tap is in a rubber collet that tolerates a small amount of error.)  My experience so far is that if the tap has a sharp end (unlike a bottoming tap, which has a flat bottom) and you are pretty well located in the hole, the chamfer is not really required.  (That is what happened in the video above.)    If you are not perfectly centered, the first few turns of the tap will create a lazy man's chamfer, release the handle and try again.  By the third try. everything will tap just fine.  (Someone at Tapmatic is probably crying as they read this.)

I am using spiral flute taps so far and they do a wonderful job of evacuating material from the hole as they go down.  The straight flute taps you will find in your DIY store's basic tap kit really don't work so well.  I have really enjoyed using drill-and-tap combos that have the right diameter drill at the front, then the tap afterwards.  Unfortunately, they seem to break a bit too easily and they aren't long enough for me to drill and tap both sides of these aluminum sleeves at the same time.  But the Tapmatic makes the extra time spent tapping not so bad.

To buy a Tapmatic.  Depending on the size of taps you will use, you need to buy a collet to fit it.
Pre- and post-sales support has been wonderful.

Made in USA Stickers

I just ordered a roll of 500 to affix to ScopeRoller products.  I had briefly experimented with using the CNC mill to mill this into the metal, but that's more time than it is worth.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Epigenetics Spreading

I mentioned a few weeks ago about epigenetics, the claim that your children can inherit your traumatic experiences.  This Lamarckianism for (or at least from, SJWs) is spreading rapidly through the culture.  A friend returned from a class about helping Christians overcome porn addiction spouting this.  This is especially upsetting to me because it takes away one's responsibility for passing on bad patterns to your kids, and your responsibility for thoughtlessly following bad patterns in which you were raised.

It just occurred to me another reason this epigenetics nonsense is false: a woman is born with all her egg cells.  Aside from the trauma of radiation, egg cell genetics are not going to change.   At most, genetic changes would have to come from the fresh production of sperm cells.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Added some more Sun pictures, aurorae, and enhanced some of the other pictures using GIMP.

Religion of Peace or Lutheran Extremists?

5/22/17 BBC:
Andy was in the arena's foyer waiting for his wife and daughter when he was thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion.
He told BBC 5 live the scene was "like something out of a war film".
"When I get up and look round, there's just bodies everywhere. I reckon 20-30 bodies. I can't say if some of them were dead but they looked dead.
"They were covered in blood and were really seriously hurt. The first thing I did was I ran into the arena trying to find my family." He found his family, who were safe, but said there were "kids and teenagers just lying there screaming".
Some reports say suicide nail bomb. Amazing how progressives insist these attacks have nothing to do with Islam.

Most Implausible Excuse Ever

Police arrived at the apartment in the Hamptons at Tampa Palms complex Friday evening after 18-year-old Devon Arthurs told police he killed his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, according to a Tampa Police report. Arthurs said all of them shared neo-Nazi beliefs but he later converted to Islam and killed the roommates because they disrespected his faith, the report states.
When they arrived at the apartment, police found Brandon Russell, standing just outside the door, "crying and visibly upset." Russell, wearing U.S. Army camouflage, had just returned to the apartment from National Guard duties.

I Do Not Feel So Bad About My Carbon Footprint Now

On Friday, the Obama’s jetted into Tuscany on a private – not a commercial – planeescorted into a small Florentine airport by six additional military jets, according to Italian state television. Footage of the landing has been broadcasting across Italy all weekend....

In just his trip back and forth to Italy, for his presentation and his vacation, Barack Obama has emitted more than 16 metric tons of carbon – just shy of what an average American emits in a yearAdd to that the motorcade, the internal travel in Italy, and, of course, the villa, and Obama and his wife have easily emitted more carbon in one single week than most Americans will in 2017.
Last week, Obama implored those same Americans – and their compatriots across Europe – to cut down on their carbon emissions in order to draw global warming to a standstill.
I'll take the global warming alarmism seriously when their cheerleaders do.

Never Realized Humans Were on the Sea Lion Menu

Next time some tree hugger screeches about protecting Gaea: 5/21/17 New York Post shows a sea lion dragging a little girl off a pier.  When rescued (I suspect by her dad), there is blood on her dress.

Making My Astrophotography (Not All Of It Impressive) Available

I like to do astrophotography. I won't claim any great expertise, but these may interest you.  Now at this address.

My Public Service Activity

I am getting questions about telescopes for the eclipse later this year.  So.

I am told hotel rooms are already becoming absurd.  Fortunately I get a bit more than a minute of totality from my house without the traffic jam that will happen on the road north from here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Pseudo-Intellectuals Are Getting More Stupid As They Get More Powerful

The Hoax
The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.
That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.
This paper should never have been published. Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)
The names were fake; their organization was fake; their argument was overtly nonsense; but it passed peer review!  I used to get upset that peer-reviewed history journals would not publish my work.  Now, it's a point of pride.  Michael Bellesiles' first fraud was published in the Journal of American History, a peer-reviewed journal.

Academia is in free fall.

The Costs of Delaying War

I know many libertarians believe that going to war except in a purely defensive manner is a bad idea.  Many tried to use this rather doctrinaire approach to win leftists to their cause during the Iraq War.  (And this netted, what, five or six leftists who suddenly embraced free market capitalism?)

I was watching The Tunisian War, another of the World War II propaganda/documentary films, and part way through, watching this prodigious waste of lives, it suddenly struck me that quantities of steel, aluminum, rubber, lead and brass expended would have built a fairly nice nation all by itself.  A bit later in the film, two pretend soldiers, "Joe," an American, and "George," a Briton actually discuss this material waste and what this will do for the post-war period when it won't have to be wasted on war with the Nazis.  (The Soviet Union, of course, was an ally, so no danger there!)

War is a terrible waste of raw materials, labor to make them into weapons, and people, not just in their own value to themselves and their families and friends, but in some cases to the larger society.  Yes, I mean Henry Moseley, a rising physicist who died at Gallipoli.

Before you think that I am joining the "No war at any price crowd": imagine the resources saved if Hitler had been stopped at the reoccupation of the Rhineland, or at Munich, instead of letting it become all out war, where the cost was far higher.  Similarly, if short fat reaches the point where North Korea has a realistic chance of launching an ICBM at the U.S., or even an IRBM at Japan, the cost of preempting this low-grade but equally evil Hitler in the Clinton/Bush/Obama charley foxtrot, will seem trivial by comparison.  Japan is already have air raid drills, and with good reason.

The cost of war is very high.  The cost of avoiding war is sometimes higher.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Star Parties in Northern Latitudes

We had a family from church over for a star party last night.   In a northern latitude, the sky is not usefully dark until after 9:00. Los Angeles spoiled me in that respect (34 degrees latitude ), and even Sonoma County (38 degrees) were nice.  Nonetheless,  we had a nice time.

Jupiter was out first.  Even at 57x, all four of the Galilean satellites were visible, lined up like beads on a string and the cloud bands were obvious.  Only at 285x did the image break down enough to stop rewarding more power,  at least in part because Jupiter was still low in the sky.

No Moon meant the other powerful delight was unavailable,  and Saturn is still a early morning object. I have not made much use of my big telescope's digital setting circles.  Without at least two bright known stars the is no way to set it up,  and by the time we called it quits,  we're just beginning to get enough stars.  I received this beast shortly before my stroke,  and I recall for a few months wondering if I was ever going to use it again.   Tonight I will be using it again.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Declining Standards

Someone sent me this link to an 1869 Harvard entrance exam.  Because it appears at a New York Times website, it appears legitimate.  Now some of the tested material is perhaps less relevant today (Latin, Greek), but the math and geography material is likely beyond the abilities of many of their graduates today.  Also, to be fair, high school was more an elite institution back then. My father went to high school in 1924; his brother went to sea.

A Disturbing Quote From Ann Althouse's Blog


"Someone with an undersize or underactive amygdala may not be able to feel empathy or refrain from violence."
"For example, many psychopathic adults and callous children do not recognize fear or distress in other people’s faces. Essi Viding, a professor of developmental psychopathology at University College London recalls showing one psychopathic prisoner a series of faces with different expressions. When the prisoner came to a fearful face, he said, 'I don’t know what you call this emotion, but it’s what people look like just before you stab them.'"
The article she links to is disturbing and hopeful.  Some kids (those whose condition is likely environmental such as childhood beatings and sexual abuse) respond well to treatment in a sort of therapeutic prison.

One of the graduates of that program was released and doing pretty well considering his past:
Carl wasn’t exactly in the clear. After two stints at Mendota, he was released just before his 18th birthday, got married, and at age 20 was arrested for beating up a police officer. In prison, he wrote a suicide note, fashioned a makeshift noose, and was put on suicide watch in solitary confinement. While there, he began reading the Bible and fasting, and one day, he says, “something very powerful shifted.” He began to believe in God. Carl acknowledges that his lifestyle falls far short of the Christian ideal. But he still attends church every week, and he credits Mendota with paving the way for his conversion. By the time he was released, in 2003, his marriage had dissolved, and he moved away from Wisconsin, eventually settling in California, where he opened his funeral home.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Think Mastering Algebra (or even Multiplication Tables) Matters More

From EDX:
Teaching Social Justice Through Secondary Mathematics
Explore and create secondary math classroom activities that consider social justice concerns.
Whoops!  The reviews make me suspect parody:
Butch Streisand 82 minutes ago
rates this course 4.5 / 5 starsThis course, like, totally opened my eyes. I had no idea that the binary system is so oppressive and, like, implies that there are only two genders, which everybody knows is, like, totally wrong and hurtful. I'm so glad that I'm now like totally woke and can like show the kids in my class how phallocentric and imperialistic our reactionary number system is.
Davis McAngela 6 hours agorates this course 5 / 5 starsFabulous course! I had no idea how heteronormative conic sections were until I started this course. Now I'm smashing the cis-mathematical patriarchy with intersectional matrices, feminist logarithms, AND I'm interrogating the dominant discourse of quadratics with much more inclusive solution methods! My students still don't know their times tables, but they ALL want to be community organizers now! Thank you! 
The reviews are satire, but the class looks real.

Not Parody

Camp Grounded, summer camp for children pretending they are adults:
Don’t Miss Out – 2 Sessions in Mendocino, California

Healthy Gourmet Camp Meals, Live Music, 30+ Playshops, Campfires, Yoga, Counselors, Arts ‘n Crafts, Friendship Bracelets, Camp Dance, Talent Show, Sing-A-Longs, Rockwall Climbing, Canteen, Archery, Swimming, Meditation, Games, Skits, Typewriters, Capture the Flag, Classic Cabins, Color Wars, Stargazing, Program Specialists, Wellness, S’mores & More…
Typewriters?  Wait until the SJWs discover there's no autocorrect and centering involves some simple arithmetic instead of an earnest heart and contempt for others.

Meguiars's Quik Detailer Spray

I don't what is in this stuff, but it is amazing.  I first bought it for the Corvette.  After driving home from car wash, the Jaguar is a bit dirty.  Spray this stuff on, wipe with this microfiber mitt and the car is wonderfully clean and shiny.  It removes everything but the most severely impacted ex-bugs.  Scrap them with your fingernail and CSI (Crime Scene Insect) has nothing to investigate.

Today's Discoveries

I have been using the CNC mill to mark drill points in aluminum square tubes.  I noticed that the center drill is noisy for the first .04", then quiets down the rest of the way to -.1".  So I changed the feed rate on the first .04" to 0.1 and 1 for the rest of the way down.  I guess the end point of the center drill is most of the struggle.  Much faster.

Sure This Isn't The Onion?

Some minority students at the University of Michigan have apparently felt intimidated by the interior wood paneling found throughout the historic Michigan Union building.
Anna Wibbelman, former president of Building a Better Michigan, an organization that voices student concerns about university development, stated at a student government meeting in late March that “minority students felt marginalized by quiet, imposing masculine paneling” found throughout the 100-year-old building, the meeting’s minutes state.

Really Interesting Article About Comey's Previous Acts

The Federalist describes how then Asst.Attorney-General made himself Attorney-General to defeat one of Bush's antiterrorism efforts, apparently because of his loyalty to Se. Schumer (D-NY).  Hence, Obama's appointment of Comey.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Last Man Standing Cancelled

Didn't make it through the first episode.  Perhaps I was expecting something as funny as Tim Allen's Home Improvement, both funny and family-friendly.  But 5/13/17 American Thinker:
Allen’s show, in which he plays the manager of a sporting goods chain, features Allen’s biting and genuinely funny witticisms poking fun at all things liberal. Its humor is balanced, with the show featuring a Canadian liberal son-in-law who gets his points across. But it is a rarity among sitcoms, in that any conservative viewpoints are represented at all. In its sixth season, "Last Man Standing" is doing quite well in the ratings. As the entertainment website noted:
ABC has opted not to renew the longtime Friday 8 PM anchor for Season 7 despite the fact that the blue-collar sitcom was ABC’s second most watched comedy this season with 8.1 million viewers in Live +7, only behind flagship Modern Family (8,7 million). It was the third most watched ABC scripted series overall behindGrey’s Anatomy and Modern Family….
Disney obviously has more monety than it needs.  Cancelling a low or mid-range show could be just a financial decision.  Cancelling a show that is number 2 in genre?  Politics.

To Parody Jaws: "You're Going to Need a Bigger Mental Hospital, Oregon"

A man killed his mother on Mother's Day at a rural Oregon home, then showed up at a grocery store in a nearby town carrying a decapitated head and began stabbing a checkout clerk before being subdued, authorities said Monday.

Officers determined the head the man was carrying belonged to his mother, the Sandy Police Department said....
Joshua Webb had vision problems and received Social Security payments, his father said. He lived at home so his parents could care for him, his father said, adding that they had recently bought him a dog because he wanted one. 

Source: Man Holding Mother's Decapitated Head Stabs Store Clerk in Oregon | NBC Chicago Follow us: @nbcchicago on Twitter | nbcchicago on Facebook

Fun & Games With LED Replacements for Fluorescent Fixtures

There are a number of variants of fluorescent light fixtures.  Ours had two ballasts, and where the wiring diagram that came with the bulbs showed two yellow wires into each ballast, ours had one.  Finally, we gave up and bought a replacement fixture with LEDs built in.  Still a hassle to install.

First, the salesman at Home Depot gave us some wrong information.  Coming out of the socket were six wires: two black, two white and two grounds.  "You only need one white and one black.  Wire nut the other white and black wires."  Did as he said, and now the other light fixtures in the garage stopped working as well as outlets in the kitchen, which are on a different circuit.  It turns out the pairs were not two different power sources but everything in series.  The second pair of wires transfers power to the next fixture and so on, and apparently to the next circuit.  Not at all what I would expect.

Adding to the fun, we're doing this about 10 feet off the ground, getting a chance to use muscles that do not get enough use, and I can feel it today. (The last time I was doing anything with repairing these fixtures, it was awful, but I was 10 years younger.)   Everything now works, except the light diffuser sheet in the fixture is so stiff that we can't bend it enough to go back in place.  A battle that next time I will hire someone to do.

Not sure how meaningful these comparisons are with the diffuser cover out, because while it broadens the light distribution, it also reduces it a bit.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Accidental Hero Needs Rewarding

The “accidental hero” who halted the global spread of an unprecedented ransomware attack by registering a garbled domain name hidden in the malware has warned the attack could be rebooted.
The ransomware used in Friday’s attack wreaked havoc on organisations including FedEx and Telefónica, as well as the UK’s National Health Service(NHS), where operations were cancelled, X-rays, test results and patient records became unavailable and phones did not work.
But the spread of the attack was brought to a sudden halt when one UK cybersecurity researcher tweeting as @malwaretechblog, with the help of Darien Huss from security firm Proofpoint, found and inadvertently activated a “kill switch” in the malicious software.
Many government agencies and companies are now in deep trouble.  Those who were not should send this guy money for accidentally saving them. Windows 7, if properly updated by Windows Update is not at risk.

Boxsprings Are So 20th Century

My back has been bothering me for a while.  I assumed it was that icefall.  Then I assumed the mattress was broken down. Rotating the mattress did not help.  The boxsprings and bedframe are from the Clinton Administration.  The boxspring doesn't have the support it should.  My first thought (as with everything I purchase) was Amazon, in spite of the shipping charges.  But traditional boxsprings and bedframes have been replaced with frame that has steel springs built-in. The weight is merely UPS driver-straining and has the additional advantage that it can be moved in and out of narrow doorways and halls in folded sections.  Laying on the mattress on the new frame, I can immediately feel the painful parts of my back relaxing.  Awesome, amd only $109 Amazon Prime.

How Do You Know Global Warming is Real?

Almost a month into spring, it is snowing.

OPEC is Hurting

5/11/17 CNN Money:
OPEC has asked a favor of other major producers: Please stop pumping so much and help us balance the market.
The unusual plea was issued Thursday in the cartel's closely-watched monthly report, which found that global markets are still suffering from too much supply.
The report said that balancing the market would "require the collective efforts of all oil producers" and should be done "not only for the benefit of the individual countries, but also for the general prosperity of the world economy."
OPEC said that one producer in particular is to blame: The U.S., where shale producers have continued to ramp up their drilling despite lower crude prices.
And where was their concern when OPEC was destroying Western economies in the 1970s?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thought I Had Blogged This Fake Hate Crime

5/4/17 WBIW:
(BEAN BLOSSOM) - The organist at a Brown County church is accused of vandalizing the church in order to "mobilize a movement" after he was disappointed by the election results.
After an extensive six-month investigation, police arrested 26-year-old George Nathaniel Stang of Bloomington on charges of institutional criminal mischief in connection with the vandalism that occurred last year at St. David's Episcopal Church located at the intersection of Ind. 135 and Ind. 45 in the Brown County community of Bean Blossom.
The investigation began on November 13, 2016 when Reverend Kelsey Hutto called police to report that the phrase "HEIL TRUMP" was painted on the north wall of the building, and a swastika and gay slur were painted on the west side....
Police questioned Stang at his apartment on February 23, 2017, and he denied being at the church on Saturday.
But when an officer questioned Stang again on April 28, 2017, he admitted to vandalizing the church. He was arrested Wednesday.
Stang told police, he wanted to "mobilize a movement" after being disappointed in and fearful of the election results. He told police his actions were not motivated by "anti-Christian or anti-gay" feelings; rather, they were strictly out of fear.

Wow! Rolling Stone Calls Out the Insanity

Rolling Stone  points out the insanity of the media and much of the Democratic Party about the Russians own Trump trash:
The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO's Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.
She's tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions ("a Russian partisan") to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom ("agents of influence") to Glenn Greenwald ("Russian shill") to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also "Russian shills"), to the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called "Crackas With Attitudes") to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office ("moles"). And that's just for starters.
Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked "what kind of dossier" the Kremlin has on Nunes.
Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren't on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be "unwitting" agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them. ...
Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of "fake news"?
I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.
To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It's also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party. ...
But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we're still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, "If we do the investigations, we will find the connections." 
Go read it in full.  When a progressive publication like  Rolling Stone calls this madness, and points out that the establishment just doesn't want to face up to why they lost, it's a bad sign.

Sore Loser Goes to Jail

I sometimes wonder if the purveyors of "fake news" (the mainstream media) ever consider the consequences of their propaganda campaign on their more gullible readers.  5/11/17 WREG:
Police say Wendi Wright followed a car down Highway 45 Monday afternoon.Inside the car were Congressman Kustoff and aide Marianne Dunavant.Wright reportedly followed the car after it left a town hall on the UT Martin campus.A police report states Kustoff and Dunavant felt they were in danger of being forced off the road.When they pulled into the driveway of someone they know, Wright reportedly ran to the car and screamed while banging on the car and reaching in.She then reportedly blocked the car until police were called and she ran away.Wright later posted about the incident on her Facebook account.